K-State Research and Extension News
Kansas State Climatologist Mary Knapp offers this weekly series of short programs on weather phenomena and recent meteorological events in Kansas.
Weather Wonders
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- 7/24/2014
The month of August provides an excellent opportunity to take advantage of the wide-open Kansas night sky, and enjoy meteor watching.  K-State climatologist Mary Knapp talks about how to make the most of that.
 

- 7/24/2014
Occasionally, lightning can stray far away from the actual storm.  In fact, as K-State climatologist Mary Knapp reports, lightning strikes can occur even under a fully clear sky.
 

- 7/24/2014
Despite a run of hot days recently, this month of July is well short of record heat…in fact, just the opposite.  K-State climatologist Mary Knapp has the details.

There has been a lot of talk about the unusually cool weather in Kansas this month—but K-State climatologist Mary Knapp says we were a long ways off from record-setting temperatures.

- 7/18/2014
Many of us have seen unusual weather combinations, such as winter storms that combine rain, sleet and snow. K-State climatologist Mary Knapp says there’s another rare occurrence during warmer months to look out for.

- 7/18/2014
The climate element most often associated with the state of Kansas is the wind. K-State climatologist Mary Knapp offers this brief refresher on common wind terms.

- 7/11/2014
With the nearest coast line, along the Gulf of Mexico, about a thousand miles away, Kansas residents never have to worry about hurricane activity, right?  K-State climatologist Mary Knapp tells us why that isn't necessarily the case.

- 7/11/2014
Heat lightning has often been thought to be a predictor of severe weather, but K-State climatologist Mary Knapp says this weather phenomenon doesn't carry a guarantee.

As hot as it may be right now, chances are it needs to get a lot hotter to even approach the state record for the hottest day in Kansas.  K-State climatologist Mary Knapp takes us back to that searing day in Kansas weather history.

- 7/3/2014
The hottest part of the summer has often been referred to as the "dog days of summer."  K-State climatologist Mary Knapp takes us back to ancient times, to seek out the origins of this familiar phrase.

- 7/3/2014
A little more than 60 years ago, some of the worst flooding recorded in state history occurred in and around the Kansas River Valley.  K-State climatologist Mary Knapp has more details.

- 7/3/2014
The words "fog," "haze," and "mist" are sometimes used interchangeably, but K-State climatologist Mary Knapp says that from the view of science, the three terms define three very distinct conditions.

- 6/26/2014
Sometimes, all the conditions seem ripe for some serious storm activity—but nothing happens. K-State climatologist Mary Knapp explains that something called a “capped inversion” may be to blame.

Sure, Kansas saw a lot of rain last month [June], but how does that compare to previous years? K-State climatologist Mary Knapp says it doesn’t even come close to a recent year that many of us still probably remember.

- 6/26/2014
When summer thunderstorms repeatedly roll across the sky during the early summer, some people have been known to refer to them as “monsoons.”  K-State climatologist Mary Knapp explains that the word “monsoon” has its roots in another climate component.

Some people have long associated high humidity as an indicator that severe weather is in the forecast, but K-State climatologist Mary Knapp says that’s not always true.

- 6/20/2014
The circular or oval-shaped lights have been reported for centuries, but scientists have yet to nail down a single explanation for what is commonly known as ball lightning. K-State climatologist Mary Knapp takes a closer look.

- 6/20/2014
Its name goes back more than three centuries—but sailors have been reported seeing the strange lights as far back as the Roman Empire. K-State climatologist Mary Knapp tells us about Saint Elmo’s Fire.

- 6/13/2014
The summer solstice is just around the corner.  K-State climatologist Mary Knapp has the details on what this means for Kansas residents, as well as people living much closer to the Arctic Circle.

- 6/13/2014
There is a saying that “if it rains bubbles, it will rain for 3 days.”  What’s the reasoning behind the saying?  K-State climatologist Mary Knapp tells us about the conditions that cause those bubbles…and what they might mean.

- 6/13/2014
When meteorologists are discussing severe storm radar images, they sometimes mention a feature called a “bow echo.” K-State climatologist Mary Knapp has more on this phenomenon, and what it might portend.

Some people still use the phrase, “bolt from the blue,” to express surprise.  Can lightning actually erupt from a clear blue sky?  K-State climatologist Mary Knapp explains.

Most tornadoes happen right here in the United States—but these violent storms can, and do happen elsewhere, around the globe. K-State climatologist Mary tells us about one particularly violent outbreak that occurred June 9, 1984.

When measuring wind speed, how high should an anemometer be placed?  K-State Climatologist Mary Knapp says, it often depends on who is collecting the readings.

- 5/30/2014
It was during this week, in 1966, that much of Topeka, Kansas was obliterated by an F5 tornado.  K-State climatologist Mary Knapp says it’s the big twister that everyone remembers—but there were other storms that day, too.

- 5/30/2014
We’ve now begun the month of June—is it really too late for a freeze?  K-State climatologist Mary Knapp says outdoor temperatures can, and do plummet… even this late in the year.

Have you ever noticed that your favorite weather radar sometimes displays that characteristic “rain green” coloring over your area, even when it’s dry outside?  K-State climatologist Mary Knapp says it’s not a technical glitch, but a little-known weather phenomenon.

The drought in western Kansas has many people wondering whether there could be another “Dust Bowl” on the horizon. But, what is the Dust Bowl? K-State climatologist Mary Knapp discusses the Dust Bowl era and how dry it really was during that period.
 

El Nino has crept back into weather and climate conversation. But what is an El Nino and does it have an impact on the weather in Kansas? K-State climatologist Mary Knapp says this abnormally warm pool of water in the eastern Pacific Ocean has a bigger impact on coastal states, but can still have an impact on our winter weather.
 

Kansas is often translated to mean “people of the south wind” and anyone who has ever visited the state probably wouldn’t argue. K-State climatologist Mary Knapp says data compiled by the National Climatic Data Center shows there are four Kansas locations that rank in the top 30 in terms of annual average wind speed.
 

We typically don’t see much about volcanoes on the local forecast. However, K-State climatologist Mary Knapp says a large scale volcanic eruption can have a dramatic impact on global temperatures – sometimes for years to come.
 

This year has seen a late outbreak of freezing temperatures in western Kansas. K-State climatologist Mary Knapp recalls a late freeze and snowfall that occurred in May, 1931 in Tribune, Kansas.
 

If they were wise or superstitious, the residents of Codell, in north central Kansas, spent May 20, 1919 miles from home. That’s because in 1916, 1917 and 1918 the town was hit by tornadoes on that exact date. K-State climatologist Mary Knapp details the damage caused by each of the tornadoes.
 

Flash flooding is a frequent problem during severe weather. Flash floods are denoted by rapidly rising waters with little or no advance warning. K-State climatologist Mary Knapp says as little as a quarter of an inch of rainfall can cause a flash flood if it falls quickly enough.
 

The heat index is a common feature of most weather forecasts during the summer. But, how is it calculated? While the actual calculation is rather complex, K-State climatologist Mary Knapp says it’s basically a combination of the temperature and relative humidity.
 

A listener noted they’d heard that mammatus clouds were a sign that severe weather would soon follow, but a TV meteorologist said that was an old wives’ tale. K-State climatologist Mary Knapp explains why mammatus clouds may be associated with severe weather, but are not a cause or a sign that severe weather is imminent.
 

A thunderstorm is typically associated with flashes of lightning and loud claps of thunder. However, we sometimes witness thunderstorms that produce a fantastic light show, but there’s no sound. K-State climatologist Mary Knapp explains why we can see the lightning, but can’t hear the thunder.
 

The National Weather Service devised a rule to help determine when to seek shelter from a storm. K-State climatologist Mary Knapp explains the “30-30 Rule” and some of the exceptions to the rule.
 

Last week, western and central Kansas saw strong winds and dust storms. Some observers reported a gustanado. This short-lived, ground-based, vortex develops on a gust front associated with either thunderstorms or showers. According to K-State climatologist Mary Knapp, wind speeds can reach 60 to 80 miles per hour, resulting in damage similar to that of a weak tornado.
 

A tornado, funnel cloud and land spout all feature a rapidly rotating column of air. But, how do they differ? K-State climatologist Mary Knapp explains the difference, including how a land spout of funnel cloud can become a tornado.
 

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